Way back in the heady days of late Season 13, viewers were presented with the tantalizing prospect of a Simpson family voyage to the mysterious continent of Antarctica:
Homer: The Simpsons are goin’ to Brazil.
Bart: Then I’ll have been on every continent.
Marge: Except Antarctica.
Homer: The Simpsons are goin’ to Antarctica … next year. This year Brazil.
But alas, a vacation to Antarctica was not in the cards for the following season (instead they went to EPCOT Center to help reunite Principal Skinner with Mrs. Krapabbel, who is now dating Ned Flanders for some reason). Although some fanfiction writers tried to keep the dream alive, the hopes of seeing Bart and Lisa hanging out with penguins slowly evaporated as the years went on and the Simpsons seemed to go everywhere except Antarctica (remember the time they went to Ireland? No? Good.) But now, finally, a decade later, THE DREAM HAS BECOME REALITY.
This season the Simpsons will achieve the landmark of having visited all seven continents: Yes, this means the Simpsons family is headed to Antarctica.
Now there’s no guarantee this will be a straight-up “vacation” episode like Bart vs. Australia or Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo. It could just be a brief stopover, like the time they went to Peru, or Homer’s visit to the Kwik-E-Mart head office in India. But I certainly hope it’s the former. Predictions: they go there because of something involving Lisa and global warming, Homer ignores the advice of the scientists in the research base and goes off alone, Homer fights with some penguins and gets bitten, a melting glacier becomes the setpiece of the obligatory action-packed Act 4 conflict. I can’t wait!
Here’s some trivia for you: pretty much every time the show makes a joke about a terrible potential plotline, or someone from the show says they will never do something, it eventually happens. A lot of times it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s clearly unintentional, and occasionally it’s just sad. You be the judge:
- Writer Jon Vitti, 1991: “Bart will never be hypnotized” → Happened in Day of the Jackanapes, Season 12.
- Vitti: “…there will never be a show with Bart lying in a hospital bed with cut-in clips from old shows…” → So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show, Season 4. (OK, it’s Homer instead of Bart, but close enough.)
- Vitti: “and nobody will ever get amnesia and have to be reminded of what happened by cutting different episodes together!” → Marge got amnesia in Regarding Margie (Season 17), but it wasn’t a clip show.
- Homer Loves Flanders (Season 5): Next Thursday’s wacky adventure features Homer and the family staying in a haunted house. → The Simpsons spend a night in a haunted house in the opening of Bart the Fink (Season 7).
- The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase (Season 8): “Well, here’s what’s on tap for season nine: Magic powers!” → Well, okay, nobody has actual magic powers and nobody’s been turned into a frog, but Lisa became a magician and learned how to do this in The Great Simpsina (Season 22).
- Spin-Off Showcase: “Wedding after wedding after wedding.” → Since then, Apu actually did get married, and Selma has married Grampa Simpson and Fat Tony. There’s still hope for Bumblebee Man and Itchy the Mouse.
- Spin-Off Showcase: “And did someone say, ‘long-lost triplets?'” → No triplets, but they did a whole episode about Bart meeting his exact double in Season 20, which is in the same spirit.
- Spin-Off Showcase: “So join America’s favorite TV family, and a tiny green space alien named Ozmodiar that only Homer can see, on Fox this fall.” → Ozmodiar appeared a second time in Season 11.
- Behind the Laughter (Season 11): The real Simpsons in and editing room, watching a scene from an upcoming episode where the Simpsons win a trip to Delaware. Real Homer says, “This will be the last season.” → The entire fake scene (“I want to visit a screen-door factory!”) was used a year later in Simpsons Tall Tales.
- Gump Roast (Season 13): “Marge becomes a robot” → Marge became a robot in a fantasy sequence in The Heartbroke Kid (Season 16).
- Gump Roast: “Maybe Moe gets a cell phone” → There is a fifty percent chance Moe already had a cell phone in Make Room For Lisa (Season 10), when Marge was eavesdropping on cell phone conservations. And they did a big “character gets a cell phone” episode in Season 20 with Lost Verizon.
- Gump Roast: “[H]as Bart ever owned a bear?” → Bart owned a cow in Apocalypse Cow (Season 19). Cows and bears are pretty much the same animal, right?
- Gump Roast: “Or, how ’bout a crazy wedding? Where something happens and doo doo doo doo doo…” → There’s been lots of crazy weddings where things happen… Selma & Grampa, Selma & Fat Tony, Skinner & Krabappel, Homer & Marge, Patty and Veronica, Bart and some girl, Bart and some other girl, Marge & Homer again… there’s probably more, too.
- Creator Matt Groening, 2002: “You’ll know that we jumped the shark when we finally do a special episode about the squeaky-voiced teen.” → They did a non-special episode about Gil the Salesman, who is pretty much just a grown-up version of Squeaky-Voiced Teen.
The Simpsons writers are like the Native Americans, who according to legend used every piece of the buffalo. No joke is wasted, every potential plotline is up for grabs, anything can be recycled. The show is entirely self-sufficent. It is kind of noble, in a way.